The Floating Credenza – Hikido

Hello and welcome to my blog! This post continues a series in which I’m building a pair of credenzas, one of American black walnut and the other American black cherry.  In this post I will focus on the cherry credenza as the cabinet facade comes to life in the form of sliding doors and drawer fronts.  This post will move along at a fast pace and cover quite a bit of the build being that I was pressed for time in preparing this cabinet for submission to ‘Works in Wood 2016’ an event by New Hope Arts.

Door building begins with resawing material to create sequenced boards for the door facade.  So often attention is given to exciting wood grain, wild burls, book matched crotch sections, exceptional curl or spalting.  Instead of displaying those patterns I have chosen to show the mild character of a strong tree which grew slowly.  A tree which shed its low branches early in competition amongst its peers in a race for sunlight.  The result of this competition is a trunk of clear straight grain.

In order to best display this clear, straight, and vertical grain, I will sequence match the panel rather than book match as would be typical for door panels.


After resawing, I take a few passes on each board with my jack plane to double check the grain direction.  The straighter the grain, the more difficult it becomes to check grain direction by eye.


After the panel is joined, I begin working it flat by first using the jack plane to take out the bulk of its unevenness.  I follow the jack with a try plane and finally a smoother.


Next I bring the ends to length, first sawing them, then tuning their edges with a jointer plane.


I set the panels aside for a moment and focus on preparing the battens which will run along the back of these panels.  The battens are best made from straight, rift sawn material to provide strength and minimize wood movement.  I cut along the grain to reduce the amount of grain runout and yield vertical grain battens.



After sawing, the battens are trued with a series of planes.


Next, the sides of the battens are cut at an angle, creating a dovetail profile.  This profile is then transferred to the housing which is cut into the back of the door panel.


Here is the panel with all three battens dovetailed in.


The next step in creating the door is to cut tenons on the end of the battens.  These battens will join up to the door stiles.  First I mark out the cuts I will make.


Next I saw along those lines.


Finally I have a tenon extending from behind the door panel.  The shoulder of this tenon is stepped and the receiving groove in the door stile will be similarly stepped.  The result of this arrangement will be a thin stile and flush mounted door panel.


Next I prepare the door stiles, cutting them down and planing them to dimension.


Followed by smoothing their surfaces with a Kanna.


Next I cut mortises.

Followed by assembling the door and preparing for the rails.  The rails are very thin, offering some rigidity to the assembly and serving as easily replaceable runners.  Over decades of use sliding doors will wear their tracks and runners.  I’ve made those parts out of similar materials and made them to be replaceable with only a moderate amount of work.

Here I’m cutting a rabbet along the top and bottom of the door.  The rails are fitting to these rabbets and then grooved to sit in their respective tracks.


The completed assembly, which begins to show the facade I have been working toward.


While the drawer fronts are in place, they’re simply stacked upon one another.  The next step in this process, and what will allow me to assemble the case, is to create the drawer dividers.  I begin by preparing lumber to dimension.


Followed by cutting mortises and sawing tenons.  I’m sawing the tenons here by ganging up all of the pieces to be sawn and cutting them at the same time.

The dividers are then glued up and set aside as I begin work on the housings.  The housings are both setback from the front of the cabinet facade and will be hidden by the drawer fronts.  I begin this process by sawing the sides of the grooves with the azebiki nokogiri, a radiused tip saw purpose made to saw stopped grooves.


The next step in creating this housing is to remove the waste, I do so here with a cranked neck chisel, known as kote-nomi.


The final step in cutting the housings is to run a router plane along the groove, bringing the step down to an even depth.


With the housings now cut, and the drawer dividers prepared, I can assemble the cabinet.  The facade is still missing some of its details, but I believe it is now far enough along to submit to the show.






That’s all for now, I hope you have enjoyed following along and look forward to your comments.

The Floating Credenza – Drawer Building


  1. As a floating cabinet I presume that you mean that it will have no underneath supporting structure. How do you propose to hang the unit? You did not appear to make effort to reduce the weight, or be overly concerned with load, balance, or center of gravity. Is there something other than a French cleat to enable the cabinet to float? Custom hardware? Where are the attachment points?
    Looks great. Hope you do well with the competition..

    Gary Smyth
    1. Gary,

      Thank you! I much appreciate the questions, keep in mind I have built one of these cabinets so I have a starting point. I will attend to these areas in some detail in a future post, but the basis of the wall attachment will be a french cleat.

  2. That’s amazing, a piece that I aspire making. Just starting woodworking, and recently finished my workbench and working on some bench top appliances etc. Slow, but fun. Brian, has it ever crossed your mind to either some detailed step by step videos or instructions? Maybe I’m the only one who would pay for those and you’ve already figured out that it would not worth the trouble to make. Really enjoy and like your style of furniture making. Keep it up!

    Brian DT
    1. Thanks Brian! Much appreciated. Thanks for saying so, it has been on my mind lately to do something like that.

      In the interim, please check out my section ‘Joinery & Technique’ where I have cataloged entries which walk through certain processes of joinery.

      I certainly appreciate the sentiment toward support. I have setup an Amazon aStore, which is in my links section and purchasing items through there helps me.

  3. Pingback: The Floating Credenza – Dovetails | Brian Holcombe Woodworker

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